Have you ever issued a website RFP and received limited responses? Did you wonder what went wrong and why design agencies failed to reply with earnest?
You’re not alone.
The breakdown in the RFP process can be attributed to both the RFP issuer and the RFP responders. And it is an issue that has been growing for years.
On the client side, a lot of companies fail to publish a solid RFP, which makes it difficult for agencies to respond or even take them serious. On the agency side, design firms have grown so jaded about poorly written RFP documents that many won’t even reply. This breakdown in the RFP process flow can be corrected.
A well-written, properly executed RFP can have a positive impact on the website design process. It can help articulate the project requirements and objectives, while also providing a method for obtaining an apples to apples comparison of website developers.
So now that we’ve moved past the validity of website RFPs, let’s move on to crafting one that works for both the client and the design agency.
While there are lots of agency blog posts ranting about the dangers of website RFP documents, there seems to be little information about fixing the problems within the RFP process. The posts that do offer help simply provide an RFP template that has little do so with the actual website design process.
Let’s start by looking at reasons why the average website RFP document under-delivers:
Now let’s look at three core reasons design firms struggle with RFPs in general:
There are lots of very good WordPress firms who won’t reply to RFPs and this is a problem. Clients are missing out on some very strong agency expertise, as well as missing out on acquiring some stellar WordPress talent.
If I could correct this for all parties, I would do so. Since I can’t, I’ll just pledge to faithfully reply to any website RFP that is solid.
Let’s collectively change the way the world views and utilizes website RFPs. You can do that by providing strong RFP documents and I can assist by providing solution driven responses.
Let’s review some key data that should be included in the creation of a website RFP. These include, but are not limited to the following items:
There are a few more items that I consider very important, although they can be sticky subjects.
All website RFP documents should include the following items:
When I create a website proposal, I like to have as many requirements known as possible. Some of these are generic, while others are very specific to the look and feel or the functionality of the website itself. The more details I have at hand, the more knowledgeable I will be about a project and the more precise I can be with creating solutions and offering estimates.
Help me help you. Provide lots of details around your functional requirements. Go into great detail so I can help present the best solution for you and your new website.
Here are some website requirements to consider when creating your website RFP:
Because different firms will have different proposal templates, help them create a document tailored to you by setting expectations for the response. I wouldn’t suggest you dictate the format, but I do suggest you provide a list of key proposal deliverables.
These RFP deliverables could include:
Keep in mind the design agencies may not reply with all items listed by you in the RFP.
For example, I am happy to provide references, although I do not do so until I know we are on the shortlist of design firms. I do this to protect our existing clients so they are not inundated with requests for references. It is a courtesy to my clients and not an act of stubbornness.
One last reminder is to clearly define your RFP schedule, steps, and process. This can be efficiently done via a simple RFP schedule.
A sample website RFP schedule is as follows:
As I wrote this post, I was Skyping with an existing website design client named David Harper. I knew he would provide some excellent insight from the client side of this discussion.
David is very data driven and analytical. And even with personality type, he did not use an RFP in his process of selecting a design agency for this latest website project.
Once this caught my attention, I was surprised, so I thought I would just ask him about his selection process and why he did not use a website RFP.
Thankfully, David was kind enough to take the time to indulge me and provided insight into why he decided to forgo the RFP process as he interviewed WordPress designers.
Here are some great comments from my conversion with David:
Now, David is a highly intelligent man who typically knows exactly what he wants. He also “gets” technology and has gone through several dozen website projects in his lifetime. He knows what works and he knows this through experiencing his own set of project successes and failures.
Because of David’s intelligence and experience, I welcomed his comments and I wanted to share them with the readers of this blog post. And while everything David said above was very educational, the most important statement he made was this:
Relationships must come before any website RFP.
David, I have to admit, I don’t think I could have articulated that better myself. RFPs are great if they are accompanied by a solid relationship.